Stephanie Lukas

Aug 24th 1928 — Apr 29th 2024 (95 years)


LUKAS, Stephanie (nee Zupp)

Our spirited, dance-loving mother cha-cha-cha'd her way from this life on April 29, 2024 at the age of 95. Mom concurred with Oscar Wilde that "One should never trust a woman who tells her real age," and therefore only consented to the publication of that top secret information following her departure from this world. Sorry Ma.

Born in Edmonton on August 24, 1928 Stephanie was the only child of Juliana Zupp and Stefan Abt, who immigrated to Canada from Hungary, and Germany, respectively. When she was 4 years old, Stephanie and her parents moved to Toronto where she lived most of her life. As a young girl she would help in her parents’ "dime store" near the corner of Queen and Spadina. Following graduation, with Honors, from Central High School of Commerce, she undertook what was referred to in the parlance of that era as "secretarial" training. Suffice to say, our mother was not allergic to hard work. Mom was employed in a variety of administrative roles with organizations including Long & McQuade, the American Motors Corporation, Sears (a division of Miller Printing Equipment Ltd.), PNG Packaging, and the CUOE & GW offices in Etobicoke. She finally retired at 82!

In addition to her family, Stephanie had various, disparate interests that included a fascination with and respect for all the creatures we share our planet with (which she inherited from her parents and, in turn, instilled in her kids); the environment; exercise; fancy clothes, precariously high heels, violent action movies, a weekly “wash and set”, the color red, dark chocolate, well-behaved children (hers and everyone else’s), and excellent food accompanied by the occasional glass of moderately-priced Merlot. Conversely, Mom frowned upon bric a brac, slow drivers, sensible shoes, the Harper government, slab cakes, slovenly penmanship, misbehaved children (hers and everyone else’s), and air conditioning. As a teenager, Stephanie played violin with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra; an experience that nurtured two lifelong passions: classical music and ballroom dancing.

Stephanie, ever the social butterfly, had a band of cherished friends that she loved very much, including the West-Way Club dance gals, Elli Korm of North York, and Valerie Fritz of Scarborough, with whom she shared a special "sistership" that spanned over 80 years. The extended O’Neill clan embraced mom as one of their own, including her in many of their family celebrations. Our mother's outgoing (and often unfiltered) personality sparked spontaneous conversations with all manner of strangers, waitresses, cashiers and members of the general public who found themselves drawn by her verve, and her welcoming, irresistible smile. (How that extroverted woman produced two highly introverted kids, we'll never know).

Stephanie's life spanned the Great Depression and WW II; she experienced the loss of her first-born, and decades later she recovered from a "damn inconvenient" stroke at the age of 84. Hers was a long, vibrant life, and having only one kidney did not slow her down one iota. Our mother valued working hard, “saving for a rainy day”, maintaining an immaculate home, and, most importantly, standing on her own two feet (in high heels, of course). To her great satisfaction, she lived proudly and independently into her 90's, before necessity influenced relocation to an environment where she benefited from assisted living. At the age of 91 she moved to Orillia to live closer to her daughter.

Left with the conflicting yet complementary tasks of mourning her passing while celebrating her life are her surviving children: Sabina Lukas (partner Michael O'Neill) of Brechin, Ontario; and Stephen Lukas (husband Peter Mallette) of West Kelowna, British Columbia. Stephanie was predeceased by her parents, and an infant daughter.

On her behalf, we thank the now retired Dr. James B. Chiang of Etobicoke for his many years of looking after mom. Thanks as well to Dr. Karim Dharssi of Orillia who looked after mom in her final years. The wonderful staff at Victoria House Retirement Home in Orillia greatly enriched mom’s four final years. Their genuine care of and love for mom meant a great deal to her, and to her children. Since mom’s passing, we’ve heard many tearful stories, including from other residents, of how much she meant to them and how much she, and her radiant smile, will be missed. A heartfelt “thank you” to the Community Nurses of Bayshore Healthcare, especially Mamie and Jessica.

Mom firmly quashed the idea of a public service of remembrance. Instead, if anyone is so compelled, a donation to an animal, nature or environmental charity in her memory would be greatly appreciated. Cremation has taken place and her ashes will be scattered privately at a later date. Her children extend their thanks to the team at Eirene Cremations for their compassionate, professional services.

We miss her already and are grateful for all she did for us, especially the values she lived her life by, and passed down. She was the very embodiment of an independent, successful and ever-loving "working" mom.

Stephanie would be tickled if you thought of her whenever you discover your toes tapping to a tune with a bouncy beat. Cha-cha-cha.


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